When I arrived in this new city after an eight hour bus ride and showed up on the Spaniard’s doorstep, he had been asleep.
“Wow, I can’t believe you came. After only two calls.” Candid. I was a little surprised to find myself there in his living room (now my living room) at 5 a.m., too, to be honest.
I had left my job at The Telegrafo newspaper in Guayaquil, packed up my apartment, and moved to Quito, in the space of three days. All because of a couple of VOIP conversations with a mysterious group calling themselves the FLOK Society.
The FLOK folks, right now, consist of a couple of Spanish hacktivists, an Ecuadorian medical doctor-turned-coordinator, a Spanish philosopher who is working remotely, and a newly-arrived Belgian theorist who researches peer-to-peer networks and their implications for a new economy. I’m joining the team to provide communications support, in English and Spanish.
Their grand idea which grabbed my attention was this: the belief that a small group of people, working openly and collaboratively, with financial and organizational support from some of Ecuador’s key government ministries, can spark a global process big and bold enough to shift the economy of a whole country off of fossil fuels and towards an open knowledge economy.
During the VOIP call that snagged me, project chief Daniel Vázquez had said that everyone involved was being asked to put ten times as much effort into this than anything they’d done before. Because the goal we have set for ourselves is something that has never happened.
FLOK Society is, at its core, a research project occurring within a university: Ecuador’s post-graduate-focused state school the IAEN. But the parameters of the project push us to seek as many partnerships with any other schools, entities, social organizations, and communities with a stake in the project. Which is to say, there is an open invitation, and there soon will be proactive attempts to court, input and collaboration from all Ecuadorians and any international group that shares the values of FLOK and is interested in the theory that by creating and empowering peer networks a country can create a new economic matrix.
There are so many hackers involved, even at this early stage, because FLOK (which stands for “Free/Libre Open Knowledge”) proposes a fundamental disruption of society. FLOK’s reason-to-be is to create a legal, economic and social framework for an entire country (Ecuador) that is consistent with principles that are the basic foundations of the Internet: peer-to-peer collaboration and shared knowledge.
I’ve only been here a couple days, so I’m still learning the dreams the FLOK folks are dreaming for Ecuador, but so far it definitely feels like the right place to be and the best thing to be doing.
FLOK’s base document roughly translated into English
FLOK’s beta-phase website